South Korean athlete Chung In-gi hit a record eight under-par 64 to take a five-shot lead at Thursday’s PGA Women’s Championship.
The 27-year-old two-time major tournament champion hit nine birdies and only one bogey at a Congressional country club outside of Washington to match the lowest first round in PGA Women’s Championship history set by Nicole Castrale in 2006.
Chun’s remarkable round also set a course record in Congress, a historic 98-year-old venue hosting a major women’s championship for the first time.
Ignoring wet conditions that were making the course longer—two inches of rain spilled onto the course overnight—Chun’s round exploded just before the turn as she wrapped four birdies in a row and dropped five lower.
A ghost on her 10th hole of the day interrupted her momentum briefly before three more birdies on her 11th, 12th and 13th holes brought her down to seven less.
Another bird three holes away left her eight short.
“I didn’t think about the whole history of today’s course,” Chun said. “I just keep making birds as much as I can.
“After heavy rain, the track seems longer. I had a couple of good throws in the woods.
“At the same time, the greens were softer, so I think it was just a good balance.”
In a thrilling round, Chun left her five shots ahead of compatriots Choi Hye-jin and Thailand’s Pornanong Patlum, who both posted three under par 69s.
America’s Jennifer Chang and South Africa’s Paula Reto were six shots behind the lead, two short of the lead, and tied for fourth place.
Nine women, including fit Jennifer Kupcho, Canada’s Brooke Henderson and defending champion Nellie Korda lost seven of the lead after scoring one under 71 points.
Korda struggled with conditions with three birds and two scarecrows, including a five on the 18th, but was content to evade par.
However, the American admitted that she was taken aback by Chun’s blazing first round.
“Any under par first round is good for a major,” Korda said. “I don’t know what golf course In-Ji plays. She must be playing very well.
“I think when I do it today I will be very happy with the result I scored.”
Korda had no doubts about how the rain-soaked field played.
“For a long time. It was definitely a very, very long time,” she said. “Especially for me. I’m one of the longest members of the tour, and it was a long one.”
Kupcho, who defeated Korda and Ireland’s Leona Maguire in the playoffs last weekend to win the Meijer LPGA Classic, was also baffled by Chun’s record-setting result given the conditions.
“It was definitely very windy, there was a lot of fog and rain. I haven’t played in the rain for a long time either,” Kupcho said. “A difficult task in the top nine.
“I feel like I played very well. The field is really difficult. I really don’t know how much In-Ji is now eight less. This is definitely an exception.”